Thursday, August 25, 2011

HIGH PLAINS FANDANGO: A New Red Shuttleworth Play

High Plains Fandango
a new Red Shuttleworth play

Directed by Tom Loughlin

A World Premiere
State University New York - Fredonia

February 24-25-26, 
March 1-2-3,2012

High Plains Fandango, Red Shuttleworth's new play, opened on February 24, 2012, as part of the Walter Gloor Mainstage Series at State University of New York - Fredonia.  It was directed by Tom Loughlin at the Bartlett Theatre.

The cast was Kelsey Rispin as "Waitress," Clayton Howe as "O'Garr," Tony Taylor as "Ken Adams," Cassandra Giovine as "Cinthia," Claire Elise Walton as "DQ," Andrew Albigese as "Moss," Jessica Drew-Cates as "Aquinas," Nicholas Nieves as "Father Ben," Caitlin Molloy as "Isabelle Roche," Sean Marciniak as "Louis Roche," and Jonathan Dimaria as "John Hooley."

Clayton Howe ("O'Garr") and Cassandra Giovine ("Cinthia")

High Plains Fandango takes on the coming threat of water privatization in the face of national and international water shortages.  The American West, long subject to extraction economies, booms and busts, faces a not-so double-edged Bowie knife, progress (the beloved mantra boosterism and of the cancer cell) and full-bore despoilation.

High Plains Fandango received development and a public reading by the Echo Theater Company in Los Angeles.  The reading, directed by Ethan Phillips, was held at The Zephyr Theatre on March 14, 2011, with the following cast: Tara Karsian, Vaughn Armstrong, Gigi Bermingham, Wallace Bruce, Alana Dietze, Christopher Shaw, Anabella Price, Steve Hofvendahl, Paul Lieber, Rena Strober, and Rod McLachlan.  Red Shuttleworth is grateful to the Echo Theater Company!  Special thanks to Ethan Phillips!

Red Shuttleworth

High Plains Fandango is available as a paperback book (issued by Humanitas Media Publishing in 2015) and can be located on Amazon:

Red Shuttleworth's plays have been presented widely, including at Churchill Arts Council (Fallon, NV), Foothill Theatre (Nevada City, CA), Kearney State University, Spirit of the Horse Theatre (St. Paul, MN), Sundance Playwrights Lab, Sun Valley Festival of New Western Drama, and the Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespearean Festival.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Poet Kirk Robertson

Red Shuttleworth and Kirk Robertson
Fallon, Nevada
July 1999

Kirk Roberston ( poet, artist, editor) published twenty-two poetry collections.  An arts legend, Robertson is a spare, tight, lyric bard of the fecund minimum.  William Kittredge said, What we should want is more artists like Kirk Robertson who keep poking holes in the facades we put up between ourselves and the emotional possibilities inherent in our lives and the lives of our communities.

Kirk Robertson has been inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. 

I knew and appreciated Kirk Robertson, both as a poet and as a friend, for decades.  We had a few drinks along the way.  And probably no one, at least no one I know, can speak about music with as much erudition as Robertson.

Just Past Labor Day by Kirk Robertson

What a wonderful collection of poems: Just Past Labor Day.  Get it if you can.  At least have your library order it through inter-library loan.  Or see if you can order it online from someone... new (yes!) or used; you'll thank me.  The dastardly director of University of Nevada Press allowed this treasure of vital, important, great writing to go out of print. 

Kirk Robertson
Fallon, Nevada
July 1999

And Kirk Robertson's New Poetry Collection,
How the Light Gets In:
New and Collected Poems 1969-2014,
published in July of 2014,
is available from Black Rock Press
at the University of Nevada at Reno!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kay Boyle

Kay Boyle
in her San Francisco home on Frederick Street
(in the 1970's)

Kay Boyle (February 19, 1902 - December 27, 1992) was a distinguished American writer who published nearly fifty books (novels, collections of short fiction, poetry, and non-fiction).  A ferociously independant woman and writer, Boyle, as Leah Garchik noted, was "always quick to approve or disapprove."  Boyle was in Paris with James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Ernest Hemingway, William Carlos Williams, Robert McAlmon, and a raft of other writers.

A good place to start with Kay Boyle is Fifty Stories (Doubleday, 1980) and/or Collected Poems of Kay Boyle (Copper Canyon Press, 1991).  

For nearly two decades, Kay Boyle taught at San Francisco State University.  The most fortunate student writers had her for "directed writing," which she taught in her home on Frederick Street.  I was among the lucky, though I have no idea, to this day, why she chose to help me with my poetry, because she had made it clear, just before I became her student, that "white male writers have nothing more to say."  When I finally asked about this view, she smiled, "I wasn't speaking of you."

The first semester that I studied with her, once a week meetings, she spent the first nine weeks lecturing on Paris, praising those she liked, damning those she found distasteful or boorish or just talentless.  On our first meeting she asked what I drank.  "Irish whiskey," I said.  I settled for bourbon.  She drank what she always drank, Dubonnet.  After that Kay kept a bottle of Power's Irish Whiskey for me.  I'd get half-sloshed and she would lecture on the evils of drink for writers.  On the other hand, when Kay got going on why writers must not get flabby, must always be lean, that obese writers were awful, she praised my athletic appearance... saying that it signaled a marvelous writing future.

Although she widened my circle of influences, her writing was far from the turf where I could work.  It's probably natural for student writers to be strongly influenced by mentors... to consciously or unconsciously imitate them.  I had not the talent or sensibility for that.

Ever generous to her students, Kay located opportunities for them.  One afternoon she announced that it was time for us to do a joint poetry reading.  I was astonished... having carried the notion that Kay was, essentially, tolerating my rather soft and weak poems.  But read together we did, along with William Dickey (my other mentor), Jim Hubert (also a grad student... with a poem in Esquire, Barbara Riddick, and Gene Ruggles.  We had a marvelous night, with an overflow audience, at the Parkside Public Library in San Francisco.

If  not for Kay Boyle and her tiny camera, no photographs would have been taken at my oldest daughter's baptism.  Kay insisted, too, on being the first person to give us a gift for the forthcoming infant (a blue baby rattle) and, if memory serves, gave Kate and me diapers, baby powder, and many stern lectures on child-raising.

* I snapped these photographs (in the 1970's) as Kay talked to my wife, Kate.  The negatives were rediscovered recently... found in a box in a closet as I searched for old poetry notebooks.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Poet Dave Kelly and Red Shuttleworth

Red Shuttleworth and Dave Kelly
Lake Michigan, 1976

Few poets blasted into the seventies with the firepower of Dave Kelly.  His Instructions for Viewing a Solar Eclipse (Wesleyan University Press, 1972), a dark-dark-dark sardonic take on the world, was much too bleak for critics.  But young writers loved Kelly's poems for their keen, dead-on, tough, beautifully wrought portraits of an America leaving the road at ninety, totally out of control.

The cover of Dave Kelly's Instructions for Viewing a Solar Eclipse

Kelly's book had just arrived in book stores.  The night I bought it I stayed up all night... reading it over and over.  A bright new poetry star had appeared in the heavens.  After I wrote a fan letter to Kelly, we began corresponding.  We became friends.  Kelly (and his Michigan State friends and classmates Jim Harrison and Gary Gildner) became a strong poetic influence.

Dave Kelly has not had a commercial or university press book since the appearance of Instructions for Viewing a Solar Eclipse.  His work no longer appeared in the poetry establishment's prominent journals, like Prairie Schooner, Atlantic Monthly and The Nation.  Kelly became a renegade poet of the small press scene.  His poems --bullets and jagged glass-- were not for reading at family Thanksgiving feasts, not if you wanted your mother-in-law to remain civil.

Dave Kelly is the most neglected poet in America... a great poet left out on the least hospitable edge of the frontier, a grim contrarian.

Dave Kelly... 1976

Books and chapbooks by Dave Kelly include:

Dear Nate  (Runcible Spoon, 1969)
Instructions for Viewing a Solar Eclipse  (Wesleyan University Press, 1972)
At a Time  (The Basilisk Press, 1972)
Did You Know They'e Beheading Bill Johnson Today?  (The Stone Press, 1974)
In These Rooms  (The Red Hill Press, 1976)
The Flesh-Eating Horse and Other Sagas  (Bartholomew's Cobble, 1976)
Poems in Season  (Texas Portfolio Press, 1977)
Filming Assassinations  (Ithaca House, 1979)
Northern Letter  (Nebraska Review Chapbooks, 1980)
Great Lakes Cycle  (Steps Inside, 1980)
Talking to Myself  (State Street Press, 1994)
When You Tell Them About Us  (Igneus Press, 2003) 

Dave and Sylvia Kelly
Lake Michigan, 1976

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Heavyweight Challenger Ron Lyle in 1975

Ron Lyle, within days of fighting Muhammad Ali
for the Heavyweight Championship of the World
(May 1975, Las Vegas, Nevada)

Ron Lyle, Don King, and Muhammad Ali
(one of the press conferences...
the Tropicana Casino in Las Vegas, May 1975)

Ron Lyle in the locker room of the Las Vegas Convention Center
after losing his bout with Muhammad Ali
for the Heavyweight Championship of the World

Ahead on all three judges scorecards in the 11th round, Lyle took a strong, quick right from Ali, then a number of unanswered punches.  The referee stopped the fight... in what soon became a controversial decision.  Lyle was stunned that the fight was ended despite his being uninjured and fully conscious. 

Ron Lyle fought professionally 51 times, winning 43 of those bouts. 

In the three weeks leading up to the Ali-Lyle fight, I was in Las Vegas, trying to break into freelance boxing journalism.  I managed to place articles and photo's with The Ring and Boxing Illustrated. 
Every morning, until 72-hours from the fight, Ali and Lyle did their roadwork,
rising early for dawn runs on the golf course of the Dunes in Las Vegas.

I ran those pre-fight miles with Lyle and his sparring partners.

I snapped all the photographs presented here.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Muhammad Ali in 1975

Muhammad Ali at the Tropicana Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada, May, 1975

Shortly after regaining the Heavyweight Championship in a brutal bout with George Foreman in Zaire (the Rumble in the Jungle), Muhammad Ali fought Ron Lyle on May 16, 1975 in Las Vegas.  Ali, behind on all three judges' scorecards in the 11th round, stunned Lyle with a right, then threw numerous unanswered punches... and the referee --in a somewhat controversial move-- ended the fight in Ali's favor.

During the three-weeks leading up to the Ali-Lyle bout for the Heavyweight Championship, I was in Las Vegas... struggling to break in as a freelance writer on boxing.  Both The Ring and Boxing Illustrated published pieces of mine from that fight.
Muhammad Ali and Angelo Dundee (Ali's trainer)
at one of the press conferences
leading up to the Ali-Lyle 1975 fight.

These three photographs were taken by Red Shuttleworth.